Why is it instilled in my brain, as in many others’, that it’s not OK to ask for help? You’re supposed to tough it out. Don’t show you don’t know. There’s all sorts of shame in that game. There have been many occasions when I needed help but didn’t ask for it. And had I known I was worth the asking, life may have been easier at those times.
Last week, I empowered my 7-year-old kid to ask for the help he needed. So distraught before a little league game, he broke down sobbing about his fear to go up and bat. There were too many voices in his head he said. Those of the well-meaning Dads (including his own) and coaches telling him how to stand and hold the bat and swing. I’ve pitched a tennis ball to him. I knew he could actually make contact more than half the time.
So I said, “You have to go to your game because you’re part of a team and they’re counting on you. I can make sure you have a chance to ask your coach to help you. That’s his job.” I was making all of this up but it sounded pretty good to me. Later, at the park on our way to the dug out , a mean little teammate said to my kid, “You better get a hit today”. He didn’t see me standing there. When I caught his eye, I said, “Nice way to support your teammate, kid.” It was the coach’s step son. My kid didn’t flinch.
Sometimes we need to just hear ourselves ask for help. Or hear ourselves say, “You can’t treat me like that”. When we hear ourselves standing up for us, respecting ourselves, we say, “Hey, I’m worth it”. We need to believe in our own worth and prove it to ourselves. The alternative is to prove we aren’t worth it and say nothing. When we say “it’s not worth it”, we really say we aren’t worth it.
At the next game, my husband called the coach over and my kid asked the coach for help. And he was glad to oblige, relieved I’d venture, and pitched to him before the game. The more the boy’s out on that field, the more he belongs. Of course he bats last, but he’s getting the hang of the whole thing. And the last game, he got three singles. He feels entitled to the support of the team and the coach. Shouldn’t we all have that feeling ?